The Chicago Cubs have talked about having a sportsbook at Wrigley Field for a little while now, and with the advent of sports betting in Illinois, it’s coming.
And not just a little sportsbook, either. The Cubs are reportedly planning to work with DraftKings to create the largest individual sportsbook in the country right at Wrigley Field, which could become the first sports betting location at a major sports venue:
The Cubs and @DKSportsbook want to develop the largest individual sportsbook in the country at Wrigley Field. More on the plan for what could be one of the first betting operations at a major US pro sports venue: https://t.co/tLIdYHKRI6
— Danny Ecker (@DannyEcker) September 3, 2020
Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said in a release announcing a multiyear partnership with DraftKings, “An increasing number of sports fans want to integrate sports betting into their game experience, and we’re excited to be one of the first to engage in developing a retail sportsbook at a professional sports venue.”
By having a sportsbook right at Wrigley Field, the Cubs could closely serve another significant portion of the fanbase, and also reap the benefits of legalized sports gambling in Illinois. Some of us like to bet on sports, and I can see the allure for some folks in doing it right there in Wrigleyville. You pop in before the game, have a beer, make a wager or two, go to the game.
DraftKings co-founder and president Matt Kalish told ESPN, “It might be the Cubs to win, maybe a few props like first home run, then stroll into the game at 6:45, sit down, sweat my bets and cheer on the Cubs. Then, after the game I can stop back at the DraftKings book, relax with my friends, get some food and drink and think about the next day’s game, maybe put in a few more tickets.”
The precise location for the DraftKings/Cubs sportsbook is yet to be determined, as there are a number of regulatory hurdles to pass before this can be a fully realized operation. It’s not hard to imagine the southeast corner at Addison and Sheffield being a good spot, though, given that it’s where the former DraftKings bar area used to be (after it was the Captain Morgan Club).
There may also be additional development space at Gallagher Way on the northwest side of the park, but I’m thinking the Cubs may prefer to take advantage of that space over on the southeast corner.
As for a timeline, Crain’s reports that the Cubs are targeting the sportsbook being in operation by the end of 2022, which seems to be plenty of lead time, though we’ve seen how the regulatory and legislative process can go when the Cubs try to do ANYTHING at Wrigley Field.
For obvious reasons, MLB team owners cannot also own a sports betting operation there at their park, so the Ricketts Family wouldn’t be able to own this new sportsbook. But the Cubs can partner with DraftKings to operate the book, and reap significant new sources of revenue from the operation. This could be major, major news for the organization in the long-term.
As for DraftKings, they’re already in operation in Illinois in a partnership with Casino Queen in East St. Louis. Although Illinois had previously required an in-person registration to start betting there, that requirement is currently suspended. That means you can now register and begin betting on sports in Illinois from anywhere within the state’s limits.